A pardoned academic from Exeter who was released from solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates one year ago still struggles with his mental health and is still seeking justice, he has revealed.
In November 2018 he was sentenced to life imprisonment at an Abu Dhabi court hearing but was pardoned later that month.
Now Mr Hedges has revealed that one year on, he continues to struggle with his mental health and has submitted an application to the UN in the hope his case will be investigated.
He said: "Since my release from the UAE one year ago, I have struggled with my mental health. The fact that I am no wiser in regards to the charges for which I was arbitrarily held and charged has made recovery even harder."
The company representing Mr Hedges said Jeremy Hunt, who was then Foreign Secretary, promised a formal investigation into the Foreign Office's handling of the case.
According to Hedges' lawyer, Rodney Dixon QC, the investigation promised by Mr Hunt hasn't happened.
The legal company has now lodged a complaint with the Parliamentary Ombundsman on behalf of Mr Hedges.
I was promised an internal review into the handling of my case, and while my wife and I contributed to a general review of the FCOs handling of consular affairs, there has yet to be any action towards a specific review of my case. This has been additionally interrupted by the slow and insufficient release of information from the FCO.
Today (26 November 2019), Hedges' representatives have also filed an application with the UN, in the hope the UAE will investigate his case.
In December 2018, a few weeks after Matt’s release, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was filed with the FCO for the information and communications relating to his case. After a significant delay, a limited amount of information was provided, prompting another complaint, which in turn resulted in the FCO providing further materials. These too were heavily redacted and did not include key documents and crucial information relating to the UK Government’s dealings with the Government of the United Arab Emirates. Matthew Hedges’ legal team are now preparing a complaint to the Information Commissioner to obtain this material.
Mr Hedges, who was studying at Durham University at the time of his arrest, had travelled to the UAE to interview sources about the country's foreign policy and security strategy.
During his time there his wife Daniela Tejada led a campaign to free her husband and repeatedly called on the government to intervene.
She has also made a statement one year on from her husband's release.
A year on, the British government continues to fail us by not being transparent about why they did not respond effectively to my husband’s imprisonment and torture. It’s inconceivable that the British government doesn’t put its citizens rights at the top of its priorities. Equally worrying is the fact that an ally state, the UAE, held and tortured Matt, an innocent British researcher, for nearly seven months, yet the British government only stepped in to defend his rights when prompted by my public campaign.
Mr Hedges said despite choosing to "live in silence" since his return, he feels it's "crucial" that people speak out so that his experience doesn't happen to anyone else.
Foreign Office staff and Ministers worked incredibly hard on Matthew’s case. We are delighted he was able to return to the UK to be reunited with his wife Daniela and his family in December 2018.